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County Seeks Court Order to Stay
Arbitration for Corrections Officer Fired for Misconduct

01/03/19 08:45am        By: Nick Altmire
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    Lowville, NY- Lewis County has filed a petition with the New York State
    Supreme Court in Lewis County against CSEA Local 1000, AFSCME, AFL-CIO,
    Lewis County Local 825, Sheriff's Employee Unit 7250-03 (CSEA), seeking an
    order to permanently stay arbitration in the case of fired Corrections Officer
    Claud Bodle, Jr.

    Mr. Bodle was arrested and fired in May, accused of inappropriate contact with
    a female inmate while performing his duties as a part-time Corrections Officer
    at the Lewis County Jail. He pleaded GUILTY to a charge of Official
    Misconduct on November 1 in the Village of Lowville Court, also satisfying the
    charges of Forcible Touching and Sex Abuse.

    According to court documents filed by the County on December 19, obtained by
    linkinglewiscounty.com,  CSEA filed a Demand for Arbitration on behalf of
    Mr. Bodle on November 26, with the New York State Public Employment
    Relations Board, seeking to obtain arbitration over the decision by the County
    to terminate Mr. Bodle's employment, asserting that Mr. Bodle did not agree
    with the charges of misconduct.

    The County is asking the court to grant their application to dismiss the demand
    for arbitration, noting that Mr. Bodle's guilty plea to the criminal charge
    establishes misconduct while on duty, warranting his termination in accordance
    with the Collective Bargaining Agreement(CBA) with the union.

    The CBA also outlines the process for filing grievances, requiring the CSEA to
    file any requests for arbitration within 30 days of receipt of the County's
    decision (dated May 22). For this reason the County contends that the request
    for arbitration is time barred under the terms and procedures set forth in the
    CBA.

    Mr. Bodle did file a grievance form, dated June 7, stating "I have been charged
    with misconduct. I do not agree with the charges as presented."

    In the court documents, Lewis County Director of Human Resources
    Christopher Boulio states that CSEA representatives did informally request,
    during a phone conversation at the time of Mr. Bodle's termination, that the
    County allow for more than the thirty day period to file a demand for arbitration.

    Mr. Boulio states that it was his understanding that arbitration would not be
    filed by CSEA in the event that Mr. Bodle was found guilty of any criminal
    charge, "as management reserves the right to terminate an employee
    immediately without the need for progressive discipline....for the commission of
    a crime while on duty."

    "CSEA's decision to file a demand for arbitration when there has been an
    admission of Official Misconduct entered on the record by Mr. Bodle, is
    contrary to the procedural mandates set forth in the CBA and reasonable logic,"
    Mr. Boulio states in his deposition to the court, adding "In addition, any claim
    that termination is disproportionate in this instance negates the actual legal
    exposure to the County by Mr. Bodle's misconduct , and his basic disregard for
    the public's rights, including inmates."

    In the request for an order to permanently stay arbitration, the County contends
    that anything less than termination would put the public at risk and the County
    at risk for liability.

    The County's request is set to be heard in Lewis County Supreme Court on
    January 30, with the Honorable Charles C. Merrell presiding.

    Lewis County officials declined to comment on the matter, citing the pending
    litigation.